13 Best Things To Do in Faribault, Minnesota

Aerial view of Faribault, Minnesota

Founded by Alexander Faribault in 1826, Faribault’s history still brims throughout the charming streets of the small Americana town. Today, Faribault boasts one of Minnesota‘s largest collections of buildings on the National Historic Register, second only to St. Paul.

While it may not be among the largest or most famous Minnesota tourist cities, Faribault has plenty going for it. First, there’s its excellent location – this small town of around 25,000 people sprawls along the banks of the Cannon River about an hour south of Minneapolis.

This makes it an ideal getaway for Twin Cities residents looking to escape the grind and tourists looking for a wonderful place to relax within driving distance of a major metro area. Whether you’re a Minnesota local looking to take a day trip or just searching for a great place to visit, we’ll fill you in on some of the most fun things to do in Faribault.

And as always, never forget to prepare for the unexpected. Pack a little extra peace of mind on your next adventure with travel insurance plans from top providers.

TL;DR

Category Recommendation
Most significant landmark Faribault Woolen Mill
Free activity Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail
Activity for kids Mall of America
Activity for adults Vintage Escapes Winery & Vineyard
Place to eat Crack of Dawn Bakehouse
Best nightlife 10,000 Drops Distillery
Place to stay The Inn at Shattuck St. Mary’s

Things to Do in Faribault, Minnesota

1. Explore Faribault’s Historic Buildings

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church or the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Faribault, Minnesota
James Reininger / Adobe Stock

Faribault’s strong ties to history are an undeniable part of its charm. The Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission even decided to design this handy website, complete with a podcast walking tour of each major historical building in town.

Check out the Faribault National Register of Historic Properties for a complete list of historic buildings and where to find them. You might even find a great place to stay, such as the Historic Hutch House, a stunning 130-year-old Victorian home turned vacation rental.

Then there’s the Inn at Shattuck St. Mary’s, a historic getaway on the grounds of an old boarding school established in 1858. Not only was the Shattuck St. Mary’s campus featured in Mighty Ducks 3, but the school boasts famous grads like Marlon Brando, Zach Parise, and Sydney Crosby.

If you prefer more of a classic hotel experience, the GrandStay Residential Suites Hotel Faribault is a nice option. It is excellent value, and each suite comes with its kitchen.

See Related: Things to Do in Northfield, Minnesota

2. Explore Downtown Faribault

Aerial View of Downtown Faribault , Minnesota
Jacob / Adobe Stock

Downtown Faribault is one big, delightful slice of nostalgic Americana. As you stroll its historic streets, don’t be surprised to see a retro tilt-a-whirl or two.

It turns out that the tilt-a-whirl was invented in Faribault back in the 1920s. You’ll also notice a collection of incredible murals scattered throughout downtown Faribault, which you can track down via this handy mural map.

Ensure you also stop by the Paradise Center for the Arts, which opened in 1894 as an opera house. These days, the Paradise Center for the Arts serves as the town’s cultural hub and offers everything from art galleries and live performances to educational art classes for all ages.

See Related: Minneapolis Murals You Need to Visit

3. Enjoy Ridiculously Delicious Food

Food served at Redemption Restaurant
Redemption / Facebook

While Faribault may not have a huge food scene, it does have plenty of next-level restaurant choices. Right in the heart of the downtown area, you’ll find the Crack of Dawn Bakehouse, a scratch bakehouse that churns out everything from cinnamon rolls and pecan caramel rolls to mouthwatering French toast and quiche.

The downtown area is also where you’ll find Janna’s Market, a walk-through marketplace that serves up everything from hot breakfasts to healthy lunch and dinner options. But be sure you also check out the Depot Bar and Grill, a fantastic little dining destination housed in a historic train station.

Want to get a little fancier? Check out Redemption Restaurant, located in a beautifully renovated historic 19th-century warehouse building.

See Related: Things to Do in Rochester, Minnesota

4. Shop the Local Boutique Shops

Flower and Flower Beads at Glass Garden Beads and Brigg Evans Textile Kits
Glass Garden Beads and Brigg Evans Textile Kits / Facebook

If you love to shop for antiques or unique handmade goods, then Faribault is your dream come true. The town is home to lots of cool gift shops, such as the Fleur De Lis Gallery and Glass Garden Beads, where you can pick up one-of-a-kind gifts.

If you prefer to hunt for hidden treasure, head down to Keepers Antiques on Central Ave or the Junk Monkey on 4th Street Northeast. Nook & Cranny is yet another cozy boutique shop that offers everything from antiques to unique gifts by local artists.

See Related: Best Hotels in Rochester, Minnesota

5. Take a Scenic Hike at River Bend Nature Center

Straight River and Pedestrian Overpass with bright blue sky and clouds at River Bend Nature Center
jimmyostgard / Adobe Stock

Address: 1000 Rustad Road, Faribault, MN 55021

Visiting Faribault makes getting off the grid a breeze, as you’ll find the 743-acre River Bend Nature Center right in town. River Bend offers fun for the whole family, including a revolving selection of programs for kids and plenty of trails open for hiking, biking, show-shoeing, and skiing year-round.

No worries if you didn’t bring your own bikes along – just head up to Milltown Cycles on Central Ave to rent bikes for the whole family. Whether you set out with your furry friend for a hike along the Straight River or enjoy a family picnic lunch, River Bend Nature Center is well worth a visit.

There are a lot of nice places to stay in the area, so check out vacation rentals like the Arch House. This beautiful two-bedroom home is just half a mile from the nature center and is pet and kid-friendly!

See Related: Minnesota National Parks and National Park Service Sites to Visit

6. Tour the Faribault Woolen Mill

Faribault Woolen Mill building in Faribault, Minnesota
McGhiever / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 1500 2nd Ave NW, Faribault, MN 55021

If there’s one thing you don’t want to miss in Faribault, it’s a tour of the Faribault Woolen Mill. First established in 1865 on the Cannon River bank, the iconic site is now one of the last vertical woolen mills still in operation.

Call ahead to schedule a tour on Friday or Saturday from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. to learn firsthand how the mill’s artisans transform raw wool into their signature wool blankets and throws. Even if you don’t have time to take a tour, drop by the Faribault Mill store.

Not only are the products exceptional, but the Faribault Mill also supports a great cause called Spread the Warmth. Every time they sell a blanket, they donate one to homeless youth in need.

See Related: Things to Do in Red Wing, Minnesota

7. Check Out the History of Rice County and Beyond

Kids visiting the Rice County Historical Society
Rice County Historical Society / Facebook

Address: 1814 2nd Ave NW, Faribault, MN 55021

If you want an afternoon of educational fun for the whole family, visit the Rice County Historical Society. Learn more about the rich history of the whole county at the local history museum. From the history of the Wahpekute Dakota people to antique pianos manufactured in the town, the museum offers a nice collection of exhibits.

Booking a rental car can also open up many possibilities for epic day trips to the Twin Cities. There, you’ll find many options for history tours, including a trek through the home of literary giant F. Scott Fitzgerald or an adventure through an old cave network used by gangsters during the Prohibition era.

You might even choose to take a riverboat cruise along the Mississippi River. If you’re feeling feisty, you could also opt for a history pub crawl through Minneapolis – though it is probably best to leave the kids at home for that one.

See Related: Best Day Trips From Rochester, Minnesota

8. Enjoy a Hike at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Hidden falls at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park during early winter time
Yan / Adobe Stock

Address: 9700 170th St E, Nerstrand, MN 55053

If you’re looking for day trips closer to Faribault, then Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is a great selection. Located just under 20 minutes northeast of town, Nerstrand Big Woods offers 2,882 acres of natural splendor.

Follow the “Hidden Falls” trail markers; before long, you’ll find yourself at a gorgeous waterfall. While the waterfall tends to be a star attraction, it’s worth forging onward after you get a good look, particularly if you want to leave the crowds behind.

While the 11 miles of trails are open year-round (snowshoeing is even allowed during the winter), spring is a great time to visit. That’s when the park’s 200+ varieties of wildflowers are at their most spectacular.

Want to keep the nature theme going all trip long? Book a stay in this Cozy Lakefront Home just three miles from the town center.

See Related: Best Scenic Drives in Minnesota

9. Bike Along the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail

Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail in Faribault and Mankato, Minnesota
William Wesen Appraiser / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re up for an epic bike ride, look no further than the Sakatah Trail. The 39-mile paved trail connects the towns of Faribault and Mankato and was developed over an old railroad.

Whether you tackle it by foot, bike, skates, horseback, or snowmobile, the multi-use trail offers fun for everyone. Rest assured that there’s plenty to see along the trail, even if you don’t want to do the whole route.

Near the mid-point, it loops through small towns like Elysian and Waterville, which can be a nice point to either stop for a break or return to town. At certain points, you’ll also wind past lakes, lots of farmland, and even through a few miles of Sakatah Lake State Park.

It’s never a bad idea to hit up a hiking app or download a trail map before you set out. And make sure to bring along a cell phone just in case you decide you aren’t up for making your way back by bike!

See Related: Things to Do in Owatonna, Minnesota

10. Get Salty at Studio 14 Salon and Spa

Studio 14 Salon and Spa interior
Studio 14 Salon and Spa / Facebook

Address: 128 Prairie Ave SW, Faribault, MN 55021

Did you decide to bike the full 39 miles of the Sakatah trail? If so, don’t forget to book yourself a recovery trip to Studio 14 Salon and Spa.

Sit inside the spa’s salt therapy room for a halotherapy session, or sign up for a soothing massage. With a huge range of services, from hair coloring to manicures, Studio 14 offers everything you need for a relaxing visit.

Prefer something a little more metaphysical? Head over to Zensational, which offers everything from Reiki healing to sound baths and psychic readings.

See Related: Best Resorts in Minnesota

11. Unwind at a Winery

Vintage Escapes Winery & Vineyard interior
Vintage Escapes Winery & Vineyard / Vintage Escapes Winery & Vineyard

Address: 8950 Dodd Rd, Kilkenny, MN 56052

Minnesota is home to several splendid wineries, and Faribault is no different. Around 15 minutes northwest of town, you’ll find Vintage Escapes Winery & Vineyard, a beautiful family-owned winery with a kitchen and tasting room.

Vintage Escapes even offers live music and other weekend events, so check out the events calendar on their website. Even if wine isn’t your thing, you’ll find plenty of other choices like Bourbon Flights, beer, cider, and mocktails on the menu.

See Related: Minnesota Renaissance Festival: Best Things to Do & See

12. Visit 10,000 Drops Distillery

10,000 Drops Distillery room interior
10,000 Drops Distillery / 10,000 Drops Distillery

Address: 28 4th St NE, Faribault, MN 55021

Along with wineries and breweries, Minnesota also has its fair share of distilleries. Faribault happens to be the home of 10,000 Drops Distillery, a craft distillery that offers the best cocktails in town. Whether you’re hunting for single-barrel bourbon, bond barrel-aged rum, their “Lokal” Vodka, or award-winning gin, 10,000 Drops has the right tipple for you.

On the weekends, they usually have live music and food trucks, so check out their event calendar to see what’s happening during your trip. Sip your favorite concoction out on the patio (my favorite is the Bee’s Knees) or relax in one of the plush chairs in their cool, rustic tasting room.

See Related: Best Breweries in Rochester, Minnesota

13. Take a Day Trip to the Mall of America

Exterior of the entrance of Mall of America, a major tourist destination in Minnesota.
Jeff Bukowski / Shutterstock.com

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

There’s simply no way to avoid it – if you’re visiting Minnesota for the first time, you must see the Mall of America, the largest mall in the nation. Located in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota, the massive four-story mall has plenty of fun for everyone.

While a true shopper’s paradise with around 500 stores, the Mall of America boasts the incredible SEA LIFE aquarium and the Nickelodeon Universe, the nation’s largest indoor theme park. Kids will have a blast checking out the rides at the seven-acre park or exploring the attractions at the Crayola Experience.

Explore the mall’s escape room adventure options and choose from one of sixty unique dining options, all within the same building. Whether you want to shop, ride a roller coaster, or play paintball, Mall of America makes it just a day trip away from Faribault.

See Related: Best Hotels Near the Mall of America

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Faribault, Minnesota, known for?

Widely known as the birthplace of the tilt-a-whirl, Faribault is known throughout Minnesota as a charming small town with strong ties to its history. Faribault Woolen Mill, one of the last surviving vertical woolen mills, is well known for its high-quality blankets and throws.

When is the best time to visit Faribault?

Faribault’s peak season tends to be between May and September when the weather is perfect for outdoor activities. But this being Minnesota, there’s plenty to do in winter, with many of Faribault’s local attractions open year-round for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

How far is Faribault from Minneapolis-St. Paul?

Faribault is about 52 minutes south of the Twin Cities and can be reached in just under an hour by car.

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Kyle Kroeger
WRITTEN BY

Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he's learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.

He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.